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Grand Ayatollah Shirazi: Responding to salutation in any language is wajib

The daily scholarly meeting of Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Sadiq al-Hosseini al-Shirazi was held on Thursday, the 27th of Rabi al-Awwal. In this session, like the previous meetings, the Supreme Marja answered the questions of the attendees about various jurisprudence issues.

Grand Ayatollah Shirazi discussed the “Salaam” salutation, and said: The special salutation, which is called salaam, and in Shiite traditions is referred to as “the salutation of Islam”, is not only related to the Arabic language, but also includes any other language. If a word is used in other languages with the same meaning as salaam and is synonymous with it, that word actually has the same effect as salaam.

His Eminence pointed out the fact that giving salaam is based on custom practice (Urf) and people’s perception, and further explained: This special salutation in the Arabic language is defined as saying “Salaamun Alaikum”, but if some other word is used in another language that has the same meaning, the Islamic common sense dictates that it is obligatory to respond to that salutation in that language.

He added that responding to other greetings is not wajib, and said: Responding to “salaam” is obligatory according to the authentic traditions that exist about the special and unique salutation of Islam, and it applies to all languages. Islamic common sense dictates that the Urf understanding of the word salaam is not limited to the character of this word in the Arabic language, and the ruling applies to the meaning of this word in any other language.

Grand Ayatollah Shirazi then touched on the different types of greetings, and said: The predominant opinion is that the reply to “Salaamun Alaikum is obligatory only when said upon entering, and the response to the same phrase used in the farewell greeting in Arabic is not wajib. This issue is mentioned in Urwa al-Wuthqa. Based on what can be directly concluded from Sharia-based reason and evidence, the answer to Salaam is only obligatory in the initial salutation and not in the farewell salutation.

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